We’ve enjoyed Nick Einstein’s insight as an analyst here on Rockstar CMO. His article Email marketers are currently crushing it is an evergreen favorite with the band. But, in a timely move coinciding with our focus on the product for this issue, he’s switched to product marketing and ponders if product marketers are the roadies or the rockstars…
The role of product marketing is often misunderstood and even those with experience in the space have different takes on how product marketers fit into the mix. Some harbor outdated misconceptions that the role of product marketing is primarily behind the scenes – forging positioning statements, crafting datasheets, conducting competitive intelligence. While these operational components of the job are still core to the role, truly excellent product marketing incorporates much more, and is anything but behind the scenes.
I have insight to share on the subject as I recently left my job as an industry analyst to dive head first into the world of product marketing. Below are three thoughts on the role of modern product marketing and why I believe excellent product marketing is critical.
Product marketing as the voice of the customer
Across the board, customers today have more choice than ever before and understanding their desires, requirements, aspirations, and constraints at a granular level has never been more critical to business success. Excellent product marketers understand nuanced market requirements as well as anyone in the organization and work cross-functionally with teams throughout the product development cycle to ensure that the voice of the customer is heard and translated effectively to all relevant stakeholders. Best-in-class organizations rely on product marketing expertise well before product launch and are often much more successful as a result.
Driving go-to-market strategy and tactics
Product marketing in most organizations drives GTM strategy and plays a critical role as the connective tissue between sales, marketing, product, and customer success. Having served as a key voice of the customer throughout the product development process, at release time product marketers turn the page and serve as a key resource in articulating the value proposition back to customers. Forging launch themes, messaging, and content is one component of the job, but collaborating with, and bridging the gaps between, the core functional groups of the organization is another key. Excellent product marketing crushes the blocking and tackling (pricing + packaging, datasheets, product videos) but goes beyond by conducting sales enablement training, release town halls, and other initiatives to drive product understanding, adoption, and advocacy.
Thought leadership and product evangelism
The best product marketers serve as effective evangelists of the product and step out of the back office to syndicate the message. Through press interviews, blog posts, speeches at events, and other avenues, they can often be some of the best stewards of a company’s brand and have a meaningful impact on bookings, engagement, and loyalty. The buying landscape in most business verticals is getting more complex every day. The deep product knowledge and insight into market requirements that product marketers bring to the table can help to cut through market confusion and help drive success at the ‘bottom of the funnel’ when prospects are ready to become customers.
Excellent product marketers are dedicated to the external success of the products they represent. They ensure cross-functional and product teams embrace market trends and listen intently to the voice of the customer, while enabling go-to-market teams with consistent messaging and content, and serving as key evangelists for the product. More Rockstar than roadie, excellent product marketers can often be the difference between a flop and an encore performance.